Hope Stevens Neikirk reports:
Many thanks to all who attended last night’s Party With a Purpose and to all who contribute to this important project. Your donations have a measurable impact on the lives of so many.
Maternal Health is not a “women’s issue”.” It is about the integrity of communities, societies and nations, and the well-being of all the men, women, boys and girls, whose own prospects in life depend upon healthy women and mothers.”
~~ World Health Organization International’
Before I share some content, enjoy photos of the event:
Of course there were many stories. Plus we provided this slideshow showing updates and progress being made with The Midwife Project.
The narrative to the slideshow is just below.
Our work started with replenishing supplies for Elizabeth. We spent the good part of a morning at a pharmacy filling many boxes with medications and other supplies to bring to Kagoma Gate.
Our inventory was spread out in an empty room at the clinic before being put away in the cabinet, also purchased with funds from the Midwife project.
People in the community of Kagoma Gate where up to 15 dialects can be heard. These are people who were used as virtual slaves by the sugar cane industry who came to Uganda from war torn countries like Somalia, Congo, Northern Uganda, in hopes of finding employment. When they could no longer cut cane, they were sent to a plot of land with no clean water, no sanitation, no medical and no education for the people there. Less than 10 years ago, Kagoma Gate was referred to as the village of forgotten people.
Kagoma Gate is now a village with 2 schools, buildings to house teachers, a medical clinic, a kitchen providing healthy meals, and a maintained well with clean water. Solar lighting can now be seen there and there is an incinerator to discard placentas and other medical waste.
People of the village lineup for hours to be seen by Elizabeth. There are no appointments, no complaining about a long wait, only hope. By nightfall, Elizabeth must leave. Those who were not seen by Elizabeth simply hope for better luck next time.
Elizabeth is the healthcare provider and educator. Births can now happen on beds in the clinic if the timing is right. Some births continue to take place on the dirt floors of the mud huts.
Our second clinic was in an outlying village in a brick home that belonged to one of the residents who kindly allowed us to use the space. Again, people lined up for hours, but at this location 2 very ill women were put at the head of the line. Mark and Moses took these women to the hospital right away, while we stayed at the clinic until after dark, working using flash lights from our cell phones.
One of he very ill women had a strangulated hernia and needed emergency surgery, which was done. She was sent home shortly after her surgery. The other woman, who looked septic, was diagnosed with maxillary sinus cancer. She had blood work and xrays and was admitted. Mark and Moses had to purchase a mattress for her to lie on and she had to have someone (friend or family) with her at all times in order to stay. She was given medicine for pain but died a month or so later.
Mark had to pay upfront for all treatment, including surgery. The total cost for the 2 women was $145 US dollars. On a door outside the ICU at the hospital was a sign with prices for different tests, also to be paid up front. Ball park prices: EKG $8.10. Ultrasound $5.40. Echo $13.50. Nonrefundable admission fee—about $65.
The woman with cancer was next to an orthopedic patient in traction—brick tied to a string to straighten out the broken leg.
We visited Koi Koi House, the orphanage so important to The Giving Circle. These are Mark and Kelly’s kids. The little girl running into Mark’s arms is Veronica who was severely burned as an infant when the kerosene lantern in her hut tipped over, leaving her with severe burns and causing the loss of her right forearm. This little girl is all smiles and love, especially when seeing Papa Mark.
The sign on the wall of the Koi Koi living room says, “Love is rewarded to everybody in this house, so please enjoy the place.” We were fed a delicious meal and we met Dennis, a new RN who is now assisting Elizabeth. Dennis went to nursing school so that he could take care of his younger brother Andrew, who died of Sickle cell disease before Mark and Kelly were able to get Andrew to the US for palliative care.
Our third clinic took place in a school house in another outlying village. Again, people lined up for hours. The woman pictured and her 4 children were dressed in their Sunday best to be seen. Interpreters were needed for the Americans. Sue was Elizabeth’s pharmacist. She devised a good system in dispensing meds that were quite unfamiliar to her.
Male circumcision is encouraged and offered at certain clinics for free as a public heath push to decrease the transmission of HIV and other diseases.
At the end of our trip, we were invited to the home of Moses Wambi and his wife Cecelia. We were treated to a feast while we said our good-byes. Moses and Elizabeth and Caren had a chance to review the 2-week visit and brainstorm future needs for Elizabeth to continue her very important work.
Final photos—the beautiful children of Kagoma Gate, Elizabeth holding twins she delivered and sunset on the Nile River